Since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has veered the United States dramatically off course from how it responded to climate change under former President Barack Obama. From announcing that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, to allowing federal agencies to erase the phrase “climate change” on websites, Trump, who once tweeted that climate change was a “hoax,” has systematically minimized its threat. And now, as the anniversary of his inauguration approaches, members of Congress are making a bipartisan effort to reverse course.
According to an article published yesterday (January 16) by Inside Climate News:
U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) wrote a letter to the president signed by 106 members of Congress on Thursday in response to the administration’s failure to mention the risks of climate change in its National Security Strategy, released last month. Eleven Republicans signed the letter, including members of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees.
In 2015, Obama released his National Security Strategy, which included climate change as a top security priority. The letter from Congressional members asked Trump to “reconsider this omission.” It also stated:
We have heard from scientists, military leaders and civilian personnel who believe that climate change is indeed a direct threat to America’s national security and to the stability of the world at large. As global temperatures become more volatile, sea levels rise and landscapes change, our military installations and our communities are increasingly at risk of devastation. It is imperative that the United States addresses this growing geopolitical threat.
In written comments provided during his confirmation hearing last January, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.” Additionally, according to an article in Vox, 128 military bases face potential destruction as a result of rising ociean levels.
While the Trump administration did not include climate change in its National Security Strategy, it is cited as a “direct threat” in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president in December.
As of press time, the White House has not publicly commented on the Congressional letter.